Have you ever known
love so close it hurts?
Screaming, “This works!”
Dreaming is heavenly
Waking is better
One step closer
to being together.
Earth suits ripping
at the seams
Bursting with feelings
Glowing like beams
With every glance
With every touch
With every look
With every nudge
With every smile
and spells abound.
I never understood
when people used to say,
“It feels so good it hurts.”
But sometimes love is that way.
“Love is the will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth… Love is as love does. Love is an act of will — namely, both an intention and an action. Will also implies choice. We do not have to love. We choose to love.”
― M. Scott Peck
Every couple argues. The difference between a happy couple and an unhappy couple is the way in which they argue. In fact, according to Relationship Expert John Gottman, the single strongest predictor of whether or not a relationship will succeed or fail lies in the way the couple deals with conflict (Gottman, John Mordechai, and Nan Silver. The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. New York: Crown, 1999 Print). Thus, in order to grow and be successful in our relationships, we must adopt healthy coping strategies for the difficulties that exist in them. Compatibility is not always key, but dealing with incompatibility is. Here I list 10 ways that happy couples argue differently.
- Commit to dealing with the problem. Often it can be easiest to run from conflict, especially if you’re a conflict avoidant person. But remember, this isn’t about you or whether or not you feel like dealing with the problem. It’s about what your relationship needs; so put those needs ahead of your own. Both partners must be fully committed to tackling their problems because running from conflict, won’t make it go away.
- Attack the problem, not the person. You have to remember that your partner is on your team. Always support one another, even when you don’t see eye to eye. Don’t take your frustrations out on the other person. Keep your focus on the problem and attack it together. When it comes to relationships and being right, always choose your relationship over being right.
- Practice intentional listening. Try to put yourself in your partner’s shoes. Even if you don’t understand where they are coming from, you can still respect it. Intentional listening means devoting your entire self towards the other. Turning your body towards them, looking them in the eyes, turning off the TV, and putting away your phone. These are all characteristics of intentional listening, which will ease the defensive barriers between you. It demonstrates that you actually want to hear what your partner has to say and breeds the sort of supportive environment that’s necessary for conflict resolution.
- Encourage honesty and transparency in communication. You can’t bite your partner’s head off for voicing their opinion and then expect them to continue to be honest with you about their feelings. Both verbally and behaviorally, encourage them to be honest and transparent with you. You do this by making them feel safe, with your words and actions. By letting them know, I will love you anyway.
- Get all of the facts. Nothing can be more damaging than jumping to conclusions without first getting all of the facts. Don’t waste your time or energy attacking the wrong problem. And before you go searching for a solution, make sure a problem actually exists. Check and double-check your facts.
- List all of the options. Approach your relationship problem just as you would one at work – objectively. Make a list of what your options are. This helps to keep emotions in check, personal bias out of the equation, and keeps your focus centered on the solution. While it might feel a bit silly, it’s never harmful to form a list of your options. It helps to clarify that the two of you are on the same page and demonstrates your commitment to finding a solution.
- Choose the best solution together. As you begin to decide on a solution, remember that you’re a team. Tackle this problem together; the two of you vs. it. Prioritize your relationship over being right and strategically choose a solution that benefits you both.
- Look for the positives. It can be easy in an argument to start focusing on the negative. Choose instead to look for positives. What can you learn from this situation? How can you grow from this conflict? In every challenge, there’s an opportunity. Find it.
- Let the other person save face. Even if you are right and your partner is dead wrong, you only destroy ego by causing another to lose face. You have no right to say or do anything that diminishes a man in his own eyes. After all, what matters most is not what you think of him, but what he thinks of himself. Always preserve the dignity of others. In an argument, always let the other person save face.
- Never withhold love. No matter how bad things get, never withhold love from your partner. Of course, you can tell them how you feel and express yourself, but make sure your love underlies it all. Love is the single most powerful change agent on the planet. So if you want to make some changes in your relationship, you’d be wise to never withhold it.
To love other people, you must encourage them. To encourage them, you must BELIEVE in them. Here is an acronym taken from John C. Maxwell in his book Relationships 101.
Believe in them before they succeed.
Emphasize their strengths.
List their past successes.
Instill confidence when they fail.
Experience some wins together.
Visualize their future success.
Expect a new level of living.
A Short Course in Human Relations (From Relationships 101 by John C. Maxwell)
The least important word: I
The most important word: We
The two most important words: Thank You.
The three most important words: All is forgiven.
The four most important words: What is your opinion?
The five most important words: You did a good job.
The six most important words: I want to understand you better.
We seem to have formed this strategy of withholding love in order to change people. Giving it to them only when we approve. A sort of positive reinforcement.
But this is not how God loves. God never withholds love in order to teach us a lesson. And God’s love is the single most powerful change agent on the planet.
Despite what we may believe, it’s not our responsibility to change someone. It’s God’s. Our only job is to communicate love and approval. And if we really want someone to change, we ought to be showering them with both.
Consider what metaphors we use to describe love and relationships.
We value people. We invest in relationships. People are priceless. A relationship can be bankrupt.
All economic metaphors.
I believe our problem is clear. We think of love as a commodity, using it for trade like money.
If someone is doing something for us, offering us time, gifts, social status, ect., we feel that they are valuable. With love, we withhold affirmation from those who don’t agree with us and lavishly finance those who do.
But love is not a commodity. And it doesn’t work like the economy. When you trade with love, everybody loses.
I think our society puts too much pressure on romantic love, and that’s why it often fails. Romance can’t possibly carry all that we want it to.
In an argument, have patience.
Imagine if someone were to come at you with their fists doubled, surely you would double your own just as fast.
But now, imagine someone comes to you asking to sit together, hoping to understand your point of view and exactly why yours differ. In this instance, you may find that you are not so far apart after all…that the points on which you differ are few and the points on which you agree are many.
In arguments, if only we can possess patience, and a desire to get together, we will get together.
If you wish to be above men, put yourself below them. If you wish to be before men, put yourself behind them.
This way, although you are above them, they will not feel your weight. And although you are before them, they will not count it as an injury.
This is how the rivers and seas are able to reign over all the mountain streams.